Little-Known Tips for Success
By Jan Cullinane. Previously published in the 2016 Fall Issue.
Congratulations! You’ve decided to pick up stakes and relocate. Perhaps your peer group has moved away, or you are divorced or widowed and your current community no longer fits your social or financial needs. You may long for a warmer climate, or you want your living quarters on a single level. Whatever the reason for the move, the FOR SALE sign is going up. As a single looking to relocate, you are not alone. In 2015, according to the National Association of Realtors, single women purchased 15 percent of homes in the United States and single men purchased 9 percent of homes. So, singles are very active in the real estate market.
We’ve all heard the basics for selling your house: remove clutter; make sure it’s squeaky-clean and has “curb appeal;” depersonalize it so people can envision it as their home; update/slap on fresh paint if necessary; ensure everything is in good working order; price it right; hide signs of pets; and ask a friend if your home passes the “smell” test.
But following are three lesser-known tips to help you sell your house.
Know Who Decides
It’s women who are the driving force of home purchases, influencing or deciding which home to purchase an astounding 91 percent of the time. Takeaway: you need to be sure that your home will appeal to women.
Research indicates women look for storage (think partitioned drawers in the bedroom for makeup, kitchen pantries to hide small appliances, and customized closets that make organizing effortless); flexibility (having a room that could also be used as an exercise room, craft room, or office); security (outdoor lighting, security systems); flow (for entertaining and informal conversations); low maintenance (high efficiency windows and appliances): and retreat (places to relax and unwind).
Before putting your home up for sale, consider these areas, and implement where possible to appeal to women who largely wield the decision-making power.
Nine out of 10 people use the Internet when searching for a home. Therefore, online photos of your home are critical. But, in addition to the quality, the number of pictures makes a difference as well. According to StreetEasy, a NY Real Estate Company, there is a “sweet spot:” 11 to 14 good online pictures. Listings with photos within this magic range have six times as many contacts (defined as a potential buyer contacting an agent) as listings without any pictures. In contrast, one to three photos makes it only twice as likely a contact will happen and four to 10 pictures makes it five times more likely (again, compared to having zero pictures). Don’t go over 15 photos: StreetEasy’s research shows the number of agent contacts starts to decline over 15 photos, possibly because of viewer fatigue.
You’ve heard of staging, where a professional re-arranges, brings in, and/or selects some of your furnishings to show your home to its best advantage. But did you know you can virtually stage an empty residence, using computer-generated images or pictures of real furniture?
Virtual staging is a cost-effective way to help you market your vacant home online, costing perhaps a few hundred dollars, compared to a heftier sum for physical staging, particularly if furniture and accessories have to be rented. But, you need to ‘fess up: if you’re virtually staging your home, be sure that information is clearly and conspicuously reflected in the online listing, and disclose to potential buyers that your home is either empty or furnished differently.
Does staging result in higher offers? According to a 2015 National Association of Realtors (NAR) analysis, over half of realtors working with buyers say prospective buyers do offer more money for staged houses than similar homes that are not staged.
The Power of Words
Words can sell, or not. According to Zillow, these words are GOOD to use: luxurious, impeccable, captivating, updated, and upgraded. And here are words to AVOID because of what the potential purchasers picture in their heads when they read these words: cute, charming or cozy (small); classic (old); up-and-coming neighborhood (high crime rate); needs some TLC, investment, or opportunity (dump).
When listing your house, think “nest nooks” rather than “man caves” and try to appeal to what women want in a home, use 11 to 14 good photos for your home’s online presence, consider staging, and choose your words wisely. You, too, may shortly see the “SOLD” sign on your home and join the single women and single men who are purchasing one of out of four houses.
Jan Cullinane is an award-winning author, speaker, and consultant. Her current book is The Single Woman’s Guide to Retirement (AARP/Wiley).